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Sunday, 27 November 2011

The World's Largest Leaves:Victoria Amazonica

The World's Largest Leaves: Victoria Amazonica

Underside of the Giant Water Lily
The Giant Amazon Water Lily, Victoria Amazonica, is found growing naturally in the region of central Brazil known as Amazonia. The immense leaves are the largest of all plants. Some could be as big as 2.65 m (8 ½ feet) diameter and carry a weight of 45kg (100 pounds) spread evenly. The beauty of this plant is not only in the size of the leaf but also the beautiful patterned veins underneath that support the leaf's weight. The stems can reach as much as eighteen feet from the river bottom along the banks.

The incredible leaves unfurl from only 15cm (6 inch) to 2m (6 ½ feet) in 2-3 weeks - you can virtually watch them grow! The first flowers of the giant amazon water lily normally appear with buds up to 20cm across! The stunning flowers last for only 3 days, changing from pure white to delicate pink and purple.

Credit: Diddlecome Dawcock
The pure-white flowers open during the evening with a pineapple-like fragrance. A chemical reaction inside the flower heats the bloom to as much as 12°C (20°F) above the ambient temperature, helping to disperse the perfume and attract the scarab beetle pollinator. This flower is initially female and receptive to pollen carried by a beetle from another flower. As daylight approaches the flower shuts, trapping the beetle. During the day, the flower becomes male and produces pollen that coats the beetle as it tries to escape. The flower reopens the following evening as a dark pink. This color is unattractive the pollen-coated beetle which travels to another white flower.

Credit: Lammietjie

Credit: Daniel Schwabe

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